Vet students Anika and Nancy arrive in Kenya!

 

Hello my name is Anika Mueller. I am beyond excited to have this opportunity in Kenya with Veterinarians Without Borders. So far it has already proved to be life changing for me both professionally and personally. I am proud to represent the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine program. My main interest lies in production animal health and I especially love cows. I grew up in a small town with my father as a veterinarian as my role model. I feel very fortunate to get to take part in this sustainable project and am so thankful for everyone’s support. While Kenya is much different than Canada I feel very much at home in this humble place.

Hello, my name is Nancy Brochu and as a third year student at the Atlantic Veterinary College, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work in Kenya this summer with Veterinarians Without Borders. I grew up in Canada’s largest city but spent many summer on farms in rural Quebec. So being here reminds me of those summers, though the scenery is so different, the people have been so welcoming that I feel at home. In my short time here thus far I have learnt that as a cow vet one should expect to get splattered by poop, smeared with saliva and that brown pants are fantastic when your suitcase does not arrive with you.

Summarizing our first impression of Kenya is very difficult because so many wonderful aspects have already greeted us. To begin with, we’ve gained an appreciation for patience and for each other’s moral support because we arrived in Nairobi suitcaseless. As we visited farms our appreciation for what we have in our carry-ons increased; we saw clothes lines hung with items that are getting the most use out of them, items that tell a story of hard work and commitment for family.

Upon our arrival, our supervisor John VanLeeuwen suggested an activity before heading to our hotel. We decided on a nature walk where some highlights included getting to see an albino zebra (in the picture above), a leopard sunbathing very high in a tree, and a pigmy hippo saying hello up close and personal.

In our first week a typical day consisted of about 7 farm visits where our role was to do a physical exam of the 1 or 2 dairy cows on the farm and attach accelerometers to their hind limb. We are grateful of all the practice we are getting.  Our lunch generally consists of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches however, for Anika’s birthday we got a special treat: samosas inside a donut. It may sound weird but they are very delicious.

There are many facets of our new home that have amazed us. Firstly, we have no idea how our drivers find the farms. The roads are not named nor numbered. The rough dirt paths are just barely wide enough for a car to pass and they split off often. There is a lot of cell phone communication with the farmers to find them and often enough, the farmer has to come find us and guide us. Secondly, the commitment of the farmers amazes us.

We met a farmer the other day who is an electrician… 50% of his income comes from his 2 dairy cows and the other half comes from his pigs, coffee,  AND his electrician work. It puts things into perspective about how the people live here. Lastly, we were advised that church is a great cultural experience. And so, on Sunday, we found ourselves in an all tin walled and red dirt floor building, clapping to their songs and listening to their passionate sermon which they kindly translated from Swahili to English so that we could understand.

Our writing cannot do justice to our experience so far in Kenya. It is difficult to capture the feelings and experiences but so far we can say we love it and asante (thank you) to everyone for your support for this opportunity.